Setting up Facebook Privacy & Privledges

square-facebook-logoI’ve received a few emails from friends about how to best adjust Facebook’s privacy levels. I’m not sure if this is the best way, but I certainly think it’s a step in the right direction and can greatly increase the value and usability of Facebook to you as you won’t have to censor your use of it. Facebook has finally given users the flexibility to restrict friend access.

This took a while to setup but I think it’s worth it since I can use Facebook a bit more casually now. Like most things, you get out of it what you put into it. Here are the quick steps:

Click on the Friends tab at the top.  On the Friends screen, in the top right, you’ll see a button for “Make a New List”.  Make a couple.  Mine are, literally, “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, “TripAdvisor” and “Limited Profile”.

Next, put your profile on total lock down (under “Privacy” in the top right).  If someone isn’t in a group the see nothing but the basics – maybe one email address and your profile picture.

Facebook's initial privacy screen.
Example of Facebook's initial privacy settings.

Next, start granting the friend lists privileges.  This is the bulk of the time invested. List “A” gets everything, down to “D” which sees very little, to “Limited” which is nothing but my email address.

I also have the networks broken out – TripAdvisor can see the TA apps, email, etc.  Babson network can only see my Babson email, etc.

You’ll only have to do this once, and it’s very easy to maintain as you accept new friends and decide to modify privileges slowly. I highly recommend setting up a similar system. Some people use more descriptive group titles, too. If you have any suggestions on what I’m missing, or how I can make this clearer, I’d love to hear them.

Update 1/12/09: Adam C. brought up a good note; keep in mind that in deciding what aspects of your profile people see you are also choosing what alerts they see in the News Feed.  For example, if you do not let John Doe view your pictures, then they will not see any posts in their News Feed related to your posts.

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